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another fusion coming up

I have had two fusions already L4-5, then L3-4. Now my L5-S1 is herniated and I go for an MRI next week to see how badly the blown out. Is there anyone out that has had three level fusion? Any tips on how to cope thru all these surgeries. I also had to reopened after my first fusion to have staph infection washed out. Thanks

Discectomies 05/08 and 04/11, fusions L4-5 Feb 9,2012 and L3-L4 June 28,2012, Staph infection washout 3/2/2012, Bulged L5-S1. SCS trial on January 17th, 2014, which was a success! Permanent SCS on February 20th.


  • I am in the same boat as you! I had an ALIF on L3-L4 & L4-L5 in 2007. Now L5-S1 is blown. Because I had such massive complications from the anterior approach, the dr wants to go through the back this time. The pain is awful but I am scared to death to go through spinal surgery again. 3 levels is a lot of hardware.
    DDD 2 level ALIF L3-L5 in 2007. 4/11/13 posterior fusion w/decompression on L5-S1.
  • 3 levels is a lot of hardware. I just had 2 levels added to a older fusion which was L3-L4. This levels hardware/fusion failed the first time from just the back. Ended up with a broken screw and also a lose one with no fusion. I finally went to a Dr. in NYC who did a 360 revision surgery which went OK and I did fuse 1 year later. Just had the next 2 levels down done on June 12 th. This was a 360 surgery also and the Dr.s ran into a lot of scar tissue. In my opinion I would not let a vascular/general surgeon operate on me unless they did this surgery a lot. The one that did both of mine has done over 2,000 of these surgery's and I had no problem with either one. This operation was the 4th time Dr.s have been into this area of my back and because of this I had to have a plastic surgeon close the back up. It took him 2 hours of work because their wasn't enough skin to work with. This wound has healed up with no problem also.

    Maybe I'm lucky but I went a good bit out of my way to find this team of Dr.s in NYC while their are many. many surgeons where I live. I would not let a general/vascular surgeon touch me unless they did the operation a fair amount. A LOT of stuff has to be moved out of the way for them to get to the spine from the front.

    Hope you don't need to go this route as it is/was a big operation.

    Good luck with what your films show.

    This second 360 surgery was rougher on me and I'm just in the very early stages of getting better.
  • Both of my past fusion were PLIFs. Going thru the front to get to spine scares me. I would refuse the surgery if my doctor wanted to go thru the front. I was supposed to have my MRI yesterday but a fusion has to be five weeks old before they will scan it. They changed my appointment to Friday. On an upside I am having an open MRI. I get worry just a little longer. Thats okay though my surgeons appointment is next wednesday. I have an awesome surgeon can't wait to go see him.
    Discectomies 05/08 and 04/11, fusions L4-5 Feb 9,2012 and L3-L4 June 28,2012, Staph infection washout 3/2/2012, Bulged L5-S1. SCS trial on January 17th, 2014, which was a success! Permanent SCS on February 20th.
  • I very much felt the same way as you until it was shown to me that the spine does the vast majority of the bodies weight through the from sections of the spine. What had been done with my spine from the rear, 3 operations, did not work. I met with the team of Dr.s at the hospital I had the work done at and my worries started to melt away. As I mentioned you have to get a vascular/general surgeon that does this type of surgery a lot. For a female you would have to worry about the scar that would remain. I get/got no pain from the front part of the surgery and 7 weeks after my surgery PT has me doing all kinds of thing with my stomach while working on my core strength.

    I would refuse to have a surgery done where they go in from the side as 2 surgeon I talked to about that indicated that there is a very good chance of ending up with nerve damage.

    You have to do with what you feel will work and have the trust in your surgeons as it sounds as though you do.

    I hope your MRI shows that you don't need further work.
  • My 2 level Fusion was done thru the front. I suffered terrible complications and I had the top neuro and vascular surgeon in Chicago. Something went wrong and I hemorraged terribly and needed a blood transfusion, my 7 hr surgery was 13 hrs, went into cardiac complications, got pneumonia, blood clot, and my 12 inch incision turned into 15 inches as my incision ripped on the inside twice causing me to have 2 additional surgeries as my intestines were coming thru the incision. I have so much scar tissue, a patch and 27 little 'tacks' inside my stomach. Not fun.
    DDD 2 level ALIF L3-L5 in 2007. 4/11/13 posterior fusion w/decompression on L5-S1.
  • the anterior approach is best for the surgeon but not so good for us !! its been 13 months since my last operation and i am suffering with constant intractable pain and other complications caused by the surgery i have CT scan ion the 12/2 ./13 .you have my sympathies ..there's no pint in talking about what to expect as you have already been there !! .good luck i wish you a positive outcome
    1997 laminectomy
    2007 repeat laminectomy and discectomy L4/L5
    2011 ALIF {L4/L5/S1}
    2012 ? bowel problems .still under investigation
    2014 bladder operation may 19th 2014
  • Hopeinbracelets that does sound like a true nightmare! And RTgirl2011, I'm sorry you are having to go through yet another surgery. Hoping this next one goes very smoothly for you.
    33yo mom of two. My surgical history...preadolescence scoliosis, kyphosis, and a hot mess.... 5 spine surgeries and lots of items added I wasn't born with (titanium, peek, surgical steel). Guess cremation is out. TSA loves me.
  • I had a 3 level fusion 4 months ago L3-S1. I am very pleased with the results and have no regrets! The recovery is not "easy", but as you know neither is the chronic pain. I don't want to mislead you, I'm not pain free, but the pain is greatly reduced. My surgery was through my stomach.
    2007 and 2010 L4-S1 Microdiscectomies; helped for a total of 3 years between the 2 of them.
    08/2011....pain returned.
    10/03/2012....back reconstruction L3-S1...large titanium "seperators" were put at each level with synthetic bone graft material.
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